There are usually two stages in the evolution of science fiction in any language. First, there is the stage in which stray examples of the form first manifest themselves, like a new planetoid swimming into the ken of an older firmament. Second, we have the reiterations and standardisations of the form which result in the proposition of a self-sufficient genre in itself. While the first stage is usually sustained by books alone, the second phase requires widespread mobilisation of popular media such as periodicals, fanzines, webzines, films, games and the like. The second phase also requires a sufficiently broad base of readers to sustain itself over a period of time. This two-step formula has been in evidence in most countries where SF has taken firm roots, but with varying lengths of lead-up time between the first and second stages. In England, for instance, it took a long time for SF to evolve from a purely literary to a generic form, with Michael Moorcock's inspired editorship of the New Worlds in the 1960s proving to be the point of transition. In the US, on the other hand, examples of literary SF were relatively few in the early years, but the creation of a popular genre happened almost overnight with the appearance of Hugo Gernsback's periodical Amazing Stories in the mid-1920s.
Indian languages in general and Indian English in particular have yet to proceed from the first stage in the life cycle of SF. In other words, the form is still largely literary and sustained by books, with little or no take-up by ancillary media such as periodicals. One of the tasks of this chapter will be to examine why this is so. While the chief focus of this chapter will be the Indian SF in English which has appeared in the new millennium, it will also try to establish linkages between such works and their predecessors in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Given the relative sparseness of material, it becomes unavoidable to consider Indian SF over the longue dureé, and not just over the previous decade. At the same time, the chapter will also examine the influences, if any, of SF in other languages on Indian SF in English.